My most recent visit to Exmoor I turned right after Wheddon Cross, signposted Dunkery Beacon, following through Dunkery Gate on to Webbers Post. Being a clear, crisp morning there were good views across the deep valley to Cloutsham and Horner Wood. In the distance individual trees stand out from their neighbours at this time of year, in various shades from green through to rust and gold. There were a few Exmoor ponies around but no deer to see here. However I was pleased to note several birds when walking around the nearby wood. Long-tailed tits, Coal Tits and also Goldcrest very vocal and moving around the trees. Blackbirds feasting off Hawthorn and Holly berries and several Robins in the lower branches.
Going back uphill I stopped to look with my binoculars for deer and spotted just one hind running to the left, disappearing over the brow. A hunt was in progress in the area so a ‘no show’ was not surprising. I parked and walked up to Dunkery Beacon. It was bracingly breezy with clear views in all directions and up at the top a trig point shows the distances to several points of interest. 37 miles to Yes Tor, Dartmoor and 18 ½ miles to Cardiff Airport and many more. Dunkery Beacon itself was erected in 1935 and holds a plaque explaining it’s history. Walking back down several Stonechat flew amongst the withered heather. Snow Bunting have been recorded as seen in the area but I was not that lucky. A Sparrowhawk flying low to the ground explained the lack of birdlife here.
On then to Exford, passing dense canopies of beech trees and hedges locked above the road, creating the effect of a giant polytunnel. In my rear-view mirror, disturbed beech leaves circled back down to the ground in my wake. At the White Horse Inn the log fire and sumptuous Xmas decorations were welcoming, as was a good lunch before returning home.
Sherryl Woods ………………………..17 December 2014